Creative Australia has unveiled the title and first details of Archie Moore’s presentation at the 60th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, curated by Ellie Buttrose.
Titled kith and kin, Moore’s exhibition in the Australia Pavilion will be a powerful and poignant exploration of his Kamilaroi, Bigambul, British, and Scottish heritage. Moore is only the second First Nations artist to have a solo presentation in the Australia Pavilion.
On view from 20 April to 24 November 2024, kith and kin will mark the 25th anniversary of Australia’s participation in the Biennale Arte 2024.
For three decades, Moore (b. 1970, l. Redlands, Queensland) has created thought-provoking art that bridges the personal and the political. His work is rooted in experiences around identity and heritage, and speaks to wider themes of memory, racism, and the universality of the human family.
In kith and kin, Moore will reflect on the nature and strength of Indigenous kinship, issues of surveillance and incarceration, the enduring impact of colonisation and First Nations language revival.
The guiding principle in kith and kin is that relationality is the root of identity. The exhibition draws upon Moore’s extensive research and unravels how his family history is entwined with the chronicles of the continent and more recently the nation of Australia.
By tracing his Kamilaroi and Bigambul family back 65,000+ years, Moore asserts Indigenous sovereignty. Although First Nations peoples have been threatened by invasion, massacre, disease, and dispossession, Moore celebrates their continuing vitality.
While the stories in kith and kin are often specific to the artist’s family, they mirror the narratives of indigenous and colonised people throughout the world.
Language is a recurring theme in the artist’s practice. Moore is attentive to the elimination of First Nations Australian languages, acknowledging the pernicious policies and social circumstances that have given rise to this loss.
Due to colonial dispossession Moore’s mother knew little of her ancestral languages to pass on to her son. Moore has researched Gamilaraay (the language of the Kamilaroi Nation) and Bigambul terms and incorporated them into his artwork. He does this to signpost First Nations language revival movements taking place throughout the world.
“The phrase kith and kin simply means friends and family but an earlier Old English definition for Kith dates from the 1300s and originally meant ‘countrymen’ (kith also meant ‘one’s native land’) and Kin: ‘family members’,” said Archie Moore.
“These words gradually took on the present looser sense: friends and family. Many Indigenous Australians, especially those who grew up on Country, see the land and other living things as part of their kinship system – the land itself can be a mentor, teacher, parent to a child.”
“The sense of belonging involves everyone and everything and First Nations peoples of Australia, which, like most indigenous cultures, is deeply rooted in our sacred landscape from birth until death.”
“I was interested in the phrase as it aptly describes the artwork in the pavilion, but I was also interested in the Old English meaning of the words as it feels more like a First Nations understanding of attachment to place, people and time,” said Moore.
Australia’s history is inextricably linked with the carceral system. British colonisation was established with penal colonies from 1788, and today First Nations peoples in Australia are statistically some of the most incarcerated people globally.
kith and kin examines this history via specific examples from Moore’s genealogy: his British and Scottish great-great-grandfather arrived as a convict in 1820; while his Kamilaroi and Bigambul great uncle was imprisoned in the notorious Boggo Road Gaol.
With respect and solemnity, kith and kin will make visible the impact that the incarceration of Indigenous Australians has on familial connections.
“kith and kin physically immerses the audiences in the world of Archie Moore and lays bare how we are all entangled within his web of connections,” said Ellie Buttrose.
“To have an esteemed First Nations artist such as Archie Moore present this critical exhibition in the Australia Pavilion is something that all Australians can take pride in and celebrate,” said Creative Australia Executive Director First Nations Arts and Culture Franchesca Cubillo.
“2024 marks the 25th edition of Australia’s participation in the Venice Biennale, and we’re delighted this year that for the first time two First Nations Australian artists, Marlene Gilson and Naminapu Maymuru-White, will also be showcased in the main exhibition with significant bodies of work.”
“Creative Australia will also be co-hosting with ArtReview, a program of talks that will put First Nations voices and issues at the forefront of global discussion,” said Cubillo.
The kith and kin exhibition has been developed by the artist and curator, with design consultant Kevin O’Brien of BVN, and digital designer Sebastian Adams.
The kith and kin publication features entries by Moore, sharing family stories that he has collected over his lifetime, and acclaimed writer Melissa Lucashenko, along with new essays by distinguished Professor, legal expert, writer and filmmaker Larissa Behrendt OA; Professor Macarena Gómez-Barris; curator and writer Djon Mundine OAM; and kith and kin curator Ellie Buttrose.
The book includes a roundtable discussion with the artist, curator, Dhangatti and Gumbayngirr speaker and Indigenous language expert Doctor Raymond Kelly, linguistics Professor Felicity Meakins, anthropologist Emeritus Professor Diane Bell and editor Grace Lucas-Pennington. The graphic design work is by Stuart Geddes and Žiga Testen and it is edited by Archie Moore, Ellie Buttrose and Grace Lucas-Pennington.
Australia’s participation in the Biennale Arte 2024 has been philanthropically supported since the early 1980s. In 2024, this co-investment approach is led by the Creative Australia Chair and Chair of the Venice Biennale Ambassadors, Mr Robert Morgan. Mr Morgan is joined and supported by national Ambassadors Alexandra Dimos, Russell James OAM, Marie-Louise Theile, Alenka Tindale and Dr Terry Wu.
The Australia Pavilion at the 60th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia presents kith and kin from 20 April – 24 November 2024. For more information, visit: www.kithandkin.me for details.
Image: Ellie Buttrose and Archie Moore – photo by Rhett Hammerton